Dreams of Pan-Arabia, from the Mashreq to the Maghrib
The United Arab Republic was the most successful attempt of establishing a United Arab state. It was created in 1958 with the intention of fulfilling the lost Pan-Arab dream of creating a unified Arab nation. By uniting Egypt and Syria, the UAR was one step closer to realizing the agreement between Arab leaders and the British Empire in the early 1900's of creating an Arab state in return for support in WWI.
The Arab Revolt in WWI was an uprising of Arab forces against the Ottoman Empire in return for the creation of a single state – from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen to Basrah in Iraq. The revolt was successful but instead of fulfilling their end of the agreement, European powers carved up the Arab world between them through the Skyes-Picot Agreement. While the dream was temporary halted, Pan-Arabism continued to be an aspiration for many. It emphasized that Arabic-speaking people stretching from the Maghreb to Persian Gulf constitute one people with a shared national consciousness. Many attempts of creating a unified state were taken, including the United Arab States, Arab Federation, Federation of Arab Republics, and Arab Islamic Republic but only the United Arab Replace was successful in creating an actual state. It lasted from 1958 to 1961 when a coup in Syria resulted in break-up of the republic.
This piece celebrates the optimism of the Pan-Arab movement. With Lady Liberty leading the way, the people of the Arab world were eager to fulfill their shared national aspirations through unity and solidarity. The image is inspired from an official poster of the UAR which aimed to motivate the entire Arab world to shed the vestiges of colonialism that sought to divide and segregate them. While the sentiment was not shared by all, the notion of uniting the Mashreq (place of sunrise – the East) and Maghrib (place of sunset – the West) was inspirational and triggered a supranational awakening from the Gulf to the Atlantic.
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